Enjoy the Downtime
Week 26 of 'The Great Wake Up!'
Enjoy the downtime. This was something that I definitely needed to be better at and do more of. I find myself in queues or standing around waiting for something on so many occasions, but unlike others I don't get my phone out or listen to music. Instead I get caught up inside my head, paying attention to all the thoughts that are constantly running through it. I'll be thinking about what I need to do that day, worrying about something (that often doesn't need worrying about), or trying to plan something in the future.
The time can pass without me even realising. I don't notice what is going on around me. It's like watching a film that you're engrossed in, with all my focus being on my thoughts in that particular moment.
So I used this week's experiment to try and help me break that habit. I've talked about my daily commute to work in previous posts and have been open about not enjoying it. It's something that I have to do, so I just get on with it.
The wait for the bus in the mornings can sometimes be the worst bit, particularly when the weather isn't playing nicely, which is so often the case. If I'm lucky the wait can be short and the bus arrives quickly, but as is often the way, it can feel like a lifetime. This is when I find myself drifting away from the moment, into planning and worrying mode.
So I wanted to use this time to enjoy what was around me and really connect with my surroundings. I spend so much time at the bus stop but I'd never done that. I'd never noticed how many trees there were and how green the area was. This week I noticed a small group of bright pink flowers which had grown amongst a row of bushes, standing out distinctively amongst its surroundings. I watched the birds swooping past, gathering on the pavement as if they were joining the commuters who were rushing to work. Cars drove past in regular waves and I heard the sounds of the traffic which was surprisingly relaxing with the gentle humming of their engines.
It was lovely. So lovely that on the first morning, I hadn't realised I'd been standing there for 30 minutes before someone came over and told me that the buses were on diversion and weren't stopping at my stop. Within a second I was pulled out of this moment of connection and panic set in, realising I was going to have to find another way to get to work and was going to be extremely late! The rest of that journey was then spent firmly back inside my head as I switched back to my usual worrying mode.
It was a similar experience on the other mornings too where, for one reason or another, I was taken out of enjoying the downtime by delayed buses or because I was running late. Trying this experiment on my daily commute was always going to be difficult given that most people find this time stressful even when things are going smoothly. But when things go wrong it makes it particularly challenging. Perhaps this was even more of a reason for practicing it at that time. After all there was nothing I could do about the delays so why not sit (or stand) back and try and use it as an opportunity to connect with my environment and make the experience more pleasant for myself. Perhaps that will be my next challenge!